Ghost Stories gave me a bit of deja vu. I may have seen it before, but that might just be a figment of my imagination.
I would opt to forget it again, but I don’t want to risk accidentally watching it again. I find that in the aftermath of this film, even my snark is limp. There is no blue pill for that.
It usually takes me quite a bit of time to select a movie. We all know the pitfalls of Selection Stupor.
Not this time.
I saw a movie I seemingly had no knowledge of, it was relatively new, and it listed Martin Freeman.
I’m a fan of Martin Freeman. I went for that movie like Bilbo Baggins running down a garden path toward an adventure.
I have some regrets.
From the movie’s Hulu details page,
“A man looking to debunk a series of paranormal events falls into a world of terror. Martin Freeman stars in a tale that will haunt your dreams.”
The use of “stars” here is very loosely based on the actual definition. It was based on the real definition. Movies and “based on” have an abusive relationship.
“The brain sees what it wants to see.” So says the movie poster. My brain saw Martin Freeman. If only my eyes saw as much Martin Freeman as my brain imagined.
Make no mistake, Freeman is in the movie, but he doesn’t show up until it’s about 2/3rds of the way through. Nestled within the main character’s story are three paranormal cases we get via flashbacks. Freeman’s character is the third case.
Our protagonist, Professor Goodman, is a skeptical professor and presenter of a debunking style TV show. He’s also kind of a prick. Goodman is given the cases by a legendary, old paranormal investigator, Charles Cameron, who tells our hero that they are the three cases he could never find a non-paranormal explanation for.
We trudge through the three stories.
The first is fairly typical (and boring). A security man at a disused, rusting out mental hospital.
The second is interesting and funny, but too shallowly explored to enjoy. An unlicensed teen driving his parents’ car runs over a satyr-like creature on a dark, wooded lane.
In the third story, Martin Freeman is an asshole financier at home alone in his cold, modern steel and glass home while his wife struggles with a dangerous birthing experience at the hospital. There’s some uninteresting poltergeist activity centered around the empty baby’s room.
The clues are all there – the real haunted person is, surprise, our hero Goodman. Nothing is explicit enough to know what happened to him, but we can guess this is all related to Goodman and his past.
Figuring it out isn’t intriguing or fun. The ending is worthless and trite and devalues whatever good filmmaking happened up until that point. Even a devilish Martin Freeman can’t save us at this point.
Hint – the movie tagline already told us what the movie is about.
We just had to knit the very obvious elements in each of the three cases together to arrive at…something less interesting than any of the three stories.
I can tell you that Martin Freeman was excellent. He didn’t have enough to do. There is a scene with a shotgun that was the best one minute of film I’ve seen in a while. In that moment, Freeman nails the character’s state of being with physical and emotive acting. The result is a breathtaking combination of acting, filmmaking, and scenery.
Then we got back to the drudgery of Goodman’s story. Where he’s comatose in the hospital. This is hardly a spoiler, you saw it coming a kilometer away. Through a foggy blizzard. While blind.
Eventually it ends. Hallelujah.
Toss in some horrendously hackneyed dialogue tying it all together and we fade with the song “Monster Mash”, which feels like a distinctly bad choice despite it fitting the music throughout the film.
Now go wash your mind out with something beautifully horrific, if you can.